July 11, 2012

TOM RICKS: Let’s Bring Back The Draft. “Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.” I’d take that deal, if it meant minimal taxes and regulations too, but notably he omits that stuff.

But I’d recommend instead the Robert Heinlein Starship Troopers solution: Limit the vote to veterans of military and similar service. The idea is to insure that voters are willing to sacrifice for the common good, not just suck at the government teat. Of course, we’d probably just end up with a class of voters even more entitled than the ones we have now.

Or we could limit voting to people who pay income tax. The more you pay, the more votes you get. I’ve explored some related ideas here. But I agree with Heinlein’s rather negative take on conscription, and I note that the European countries Ricks mocks mostly have it.

As for his claim that a draft would make us less likely to go to war, one of the arguments for ending the draft was that that would make us less likely to go to war, since unpopular wars would produce lower enlistment levels.

UPDATE: Comments from Don Boudreaux and from Moe Lane.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thomas Ricks’s Fiasco.

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